The issue of migrants and refugees

The issue of migrants has dominated the news recently, both in terms of US domestic policies in the Republican primaries and in Europe where people are taking desperate measures to flee horrendous conditions in their effort to find a more peaceful life. The media uses scary language to create a sense of foreboding among people that these migrants are going to destroy their way of life.

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver dispels a lot of the myths surrounding migrants and refugees and shows a 16-year old girl who puts a human face on this terrible situation.


  1. StevoR says

    Australia has had a huge problem with media hysteria and racist fear and loathing leading to appalling treatment of a handful of refugees who have been coming here by boat. They’ve been locked up in what are effectively jails on Nauru and Manus island where they are denied any chance of being resettled in Australia but instead are kept indefinitley in appalling conditions where many of them have resorted to self-harm and have been raped and more. Oh & the media have been barred from seeing them or showing them and even the staff have been banend from speaking out including even against accusations of sexual assualts etc …

    Its just horrendous and a disgrace to us as a nation.

  2. says

    The media uses scary language to create a sense of foreboding among people that these migrants are going to destroy their way of life.

    And one of the subtle ways they do that is by downplaying the severity of the situations refugees are fleeing-they refer to refugees as migrants or immigrants. While they *technically* are, being called refugees is far more precise. The term refugee applies to (for instance) a family who-having dealt with bombs, militias, or terrorism in their daily lives-flees their homes and countries to find a better place where they have a chance of survival. Whereas migrant/immigrant does not carry with it the implication that the person moving from one location to another is doing so because they’re fleeing from chaos and strife. If I decided tomorrow that I wanted to live in Germany, and moved there in a few months, I’d be a migrant/immigrant, but I wouldn’t be a refugee.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Someone leaving Syria is doing so to escape a horrible combination of bombing from the air by the USA, Russia and others and on the ground the depredations of ISIS (or whatever we’re supposed to call them this week). They are, by any civilised definition, a refugee.

    Someone leaving France, on the other hand, is doing so to escape… what? If you’re already in France -- which is by any reasonable judgement a civilised country -- in what sense can you be considered a “refugee” if you then decide to try to travel somewhere else? Surely at that point you are more accurately a “migrant”, just the same as Tony @#3?

  4. lorn says

    There is some necessity to understand the fears of the people in the countries potentially taking in large numbers of refugees. Imagine for a moment how you might feel if you are working a low end job, or have been told that if you wish to be employed you will only be rehired as a “sub-contractor” under a “zero-hour” contract. And then you hear on the news where another 100,000 refugees are coming. One might assume there is some connection. You might feel set upon, screwed. And, of course, subconsciously you know that the corporations are immune to your pleadings. So you get mad … and take it out on …

    Well, we all know that kissing up and kicking down is all the rage. It is the default … because doing the opposite gets you hurt. If not physically, then economically, or psychologically. The entire media construct of manhood, person-hood, but especially manhood, is all about work, and wealth, and autonomy. Loose that job, the shitty job you hate, the job that demeans you every time you show up for it, and then where are you? Without a job, even a shitty job, you are not independent, you are not man. Is it any wonder that losing your job leads to depression, suicide, despair, and that seeking out a cause they might turn to nationalism, racism, xenophobia, hatred.

    Change is scary. The arrival of 100,000 people you don’t know, people who you hear lurid tales about every day, is scary. And there are always people ready to gin up the fear so they can exploit it to their own ends.

    There has to be some reassurance that the people on the low end of the economy are protected and supported. The more protected those people feel the less likely they will resist to arrival of immigrants, join nationalist parties, spread nasty rumors, or believe those rumors.

    People under stress become stupid, their horizons close in, they think short term, they become hyper conservative and xenophobic. Figure out how to defuse that insecurity and fear and you will have gone a long way toward solving the problem.

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